By The Bakersfield Californian
Q: I would like to know why we have these wide streets in town that are designed to be used as one lane each way. These streets are wide enough to have two lanes each way, which would alleviate traffic congestion around town.
Here's an example: This (photo attached) is the corner of Stine Road and McCutchen Road. As you can see, going east on McCutchen, there's only one lane. This lane is used for turning right, left and going straight.
In the morning, the traffic is horrible with parents taking kids to school. We have Ridgeview High a block south from this intersection, Stonecreek Junior High two blocks east, and Miller Elementary School four blocks west. As you can see, between the center median and the opposing side there is enough room to make two lanes each way.
Another example of which I don't have pictures is Panama Lane. Going west there are three lanes but coming east only one. This is between Gosford and Ashe roads. At the west side of the intersection, there is no turning right lane, so I have seen plenty of people cut through the dirt road to make that turn.
The street designs are truly a mess in this area.
-- Janett Mendoza
A: Ryan Starbuck, an engineer in the Bakersfield Public Works Department, tackled this one:
Road widening is normally constructed when development (commercial center, residential homes, etc.) occurs adjacent to a road segment. As a condition of approval for a project, the landowner has to dedicate property to the city to allow the road to be expanded.
Also, the project has to widen half of the road along the property frontage plus install curb, gutter and sidewalk. Likewise, the property owner on the other side of the street does the same thing when they develop and we finally get a fully widened roadway.
Unfortunately, with the downturn in the economy, development slowed, leaving many situations throughout the city such as the ones you described where only one side of the road has been fully built.
At McCutchen Road and Stine Road, the city negotiated with property owners and has acquired enough land to partially expand the intersection and install a traffic signal. Construction on this project has already started with the relocation of existing utilities.
Regarding Panama Lane between Gosford and Ashe, there are several developer projects currently proposed along the south side of Panama Lane. However, the project timelines are dependent on market conditions.
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